As news reports continue regarding the spread of the Coronavirus known as COVID-19 through the U.S., leaders in our church have been thinking about the best means of preventing the virus from spreading in our facility and through our worship services and events. Our staff and leadership team is dedicated to preserving our congregations’ well-being and safety by taking every precaution to keep all our church family healthy, especially those over 60 years of age and those with underlying medical conditions and immuno-compromised.
Therefore, we are proactively developing our plans and following what the Tennessee Department of Health is recommending as they monitor the spread of COVID-19 virus. At this time, the risk level in Tennessee is still low. As one leading doctor of infectious medicine said it’s not a time to panic, but rather a time to prepare. So, we are preparing. As such, we will be putting the following protocols into place to limit the spread of this virus (which also has the added benefit of reducing the spread of ANY infection).
According to health professionals, the most important response to limit the spread of COVID-19 is through our own personal practices. Here are some guidelines to help you both at church and in the broader community:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
Use proper handwashing techniques. No soap and water? use 60%+ alcohol hand sanitizer. And you must rub your hands with sanitizer vigorously until it is completely dry effective. (20 seconds is about the time it takes to sing the Doxology!)
- Stay home if you are sick!!!! If you are feeling unwell, please rest at home.
You have permission to miss worship. We are working on making provisions to stream our services on the Internet and be watching for more information on how you can watch from home.
- When coughing or sneezing, consider others and keep covered.
Sneezing or coughing into a tissue (and dispose of immediately), or an elbow not hands.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
Hands are the greatest way we spread infection.
- Maintain social distancing.
Keep 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is sneezing and coughing. Limit direct contact as much as possible including greeting. Elbow and fist bumps are better but not the best. Some are suggesting that the Japanese practice of the bow would be appropriate.
Worship services are the most important gatherings of our church, but unfortunately are also a means by which infections can spread. To minimize the spread of disease we are making the following changes:
- Greeters and Ushers
- Greeters are encouraged to welcome folks without shaking hands or offering hugs as a means of limiting contact. A warm smile and a friendly word probably means more anyway.
- Greeters are also asked to open the doors for folks to avoid too many hands making contact with the door handles. Our staff will be regularly disinfecting the doors, but limiting contact is helpful.
- Our ushers will continue to take the offering, but we will not pass the plates from person to person. The ushers will sanitize the plates before the collection and will wear gloves to receive the offering. There will also be a basket near the front of the sanctuary for donations and attendance cards. We are strongly encouraging all who are able to consider on-line giving at www.cityroadchapel.org/give. You can setup up an automatic, recurring donation at that website as well.
- We will no longer be using the shared “pew pads” to keep up with attendance and for visitors to provide information. We will be creating pew cards for folks to complete and place in the collection basket each week.
- Communion Stewards will be asked to prepare all the elements for communion in the church kitchen using rubber gloves. Prior to preparing the meal, ALL trays and utensils will be sanitized in our commercial dishwasher.
- Communion servers will use alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately prior to serving communion and will wear gloves throughout the communion service.
- The bread will be served by the servers using our sanitized tongs. Recipients should approach the server with their hands cupped to receive the elements so as to avoid contact with the tongs. Since the servers will have just disinfected their hands and are wearing gloves, they will hand the cups to the person receiving rather than having many hands touching the cups.
- We will serve communion at two stations located at the side aisles with all standing to receive the elements. All are welcome to kneel at the altar for prayer after receiving, but those concerned with infection risks should feel free to return to their seats via the center aisle.
- Prayer Time
- In order to prevent the spread of germs, we will be discontinuing the practice of inviting people to pray with the pastor at the altar rail.
- We will be sanitizing door handles, elevator buttons, and the access keypads on a daily basis. Folks may want to bring their own disinfectant wipes to wipe down these surfaces before touching them.
- We will be providing hand sanitizer (as available) at the coffee station and we encourage all to wash their hands before getting their coffee.
- All persons handling donations and information cards will be encouraged to use rubber gloves in their work.
- We will be disinfecting our listening aid devices weekly.
- We will start “livestreaming” our 10 a.m. service on the Internet at the earliest convenience so that persons who are sick or need to avoid crowds will have the opportunity to access our services. If you need help in thinking through how to access these service, please talk to Pastor Jay,
Preparation is not worry…
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
–Matthew 6:34 (The Message)